October 1st, 2012
03:59 PM ET
2 years ago

Battle for presidency remains close in new CNN poll

Washington (CNN) – Two days before the first presidential debate, a new national survey indicates a very close contest between President Barack Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney in the race for the White House.

And according to a CNN/ORC International poll, neither candidate appears to have an edge on the economy, which remains the top issue on the minds of Americans and which may dominate Wednesday night's debate on domestic issues in Denver.

– Follow the Ticker on Twitter: @PoliticalTicker

– Check out the CNN Electoral Map and Calculator and game out your own strategy for November.

Fifty-percent of likely voters questioned in the CNN survey, which was released Monday, say that if the election were held today, they would vote for the president, with 47% saying they would support Romney, the former Massachusetts governor. The president's three point margin is within the poll's sampling error.

Three other national polls of likely voters released in the past 24 hours also indicate a tight race. The other surveys are from ABC News/Washington Post, Politico/George Washington University, and American Research Group. A CNN Poll of Polls which averages all four surveys plus a Fox News poll released late last week puts Obama at 49% and Romney at 46% among likely voters.

In the CNN/ORC poll, the national horse race stands pretty much where it was just before the two back-to-back party conventions in late August and early September.

"That's a strong suggestion that whatever bounce President Obama received from his convention has, as expected, faded away," says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. "That's why they call them 'bounces'."

When it comes to issues, the survey indicates that Obama and Romney are effectively tied when likely voters are asked which candidate would best handle the economy. Romney, however, appears to have an edge on the top two economic issues: unemployment and the budget deficit. Obama, by contrast, has the advantage on a variety of non-economic domestic issues such as education, Medicare and health care, and also polls strongly on taxes, traditionally a GOP issue. All of these issues will most likely be debated by the candidates Wednesday night.

The president has a 52%-45% advantage over Romney on foreign policy, which will be the focus of the third and final showdown between the two candidates on October 22.

But debates are not just about issues; voters judge the candidates' personal qualities as well. Among likely voters, Obama's personal favorability rating is 52%, with 48% saying they view the president in an unfavorable way. The president's numbers are basically unchanged since mid August, before the conventions.

The public is divided on Romney, with 49% holding a favorable impression of him and 50% seeing him in a negative light. Romney's favorable rating was at 50% and his unfavorable at 46% in mid-August.

When the dust settles after the debates, it will all come down to turnout and getting out the vote, and the poll suggests when it comes enthusiasm, neither campaign seems to have the upper hand.

"Only half of Romney's voters strongly supported him in May, but despite that slow start, he now gets the same level of strong support from his voters that Obama enjoys," adds Holland. "And there is no indication of an 'enthusiasm gap', with 65% of Republicans and 64% of Democrats saying they are extremely enthusiastic or very enthusiastic about voting in November."

The poll indicates Democrats overwhelming supporting the president and Republicans overwhelmingly backing Romney, with independent voters going for Romney by a 49%-41% margin, which is within the sampling error for independents.

According to the survey, Obama holds a nine-point 53%-44% advantage among females, with Romney with a 50%-47% margin among men. Romney had a larger edge among men in CNN polling prior to the conventions.

"The president seems to have held onto some of that support among men, opening the possibility that their votes may be in play. Obama also held onto most of his bounce among rural voters, but they are still solidly in Romney's camp. On the other hand, Obama's biggest losses since the Democratic convention have come among lower-income voters and urban residents - two key elements of his coalition," says Holland. "But it's worth noting that support for Obama in those groups is back where it was before the conventions, indicating that the Democratic convention mobilized that portion of the Democratic base but only temporarily."

The president's approval rating in the new poll stands at 49% among all adults, with 48% saying they disapprove of how Obama handling his duties in the White House. The president's approval rating stood at 50%-44% before the conventions.

In addition to the three presidential debates, Vice President Joe Biden and Rep. Paul Ryan, the Republican running mate, face off next week at a debate in Kentucky. The poll indicates that Biden has a 47% favorable rating, with 44% saying they see him in an unfavorable way. Ryan has 46%-40% favorable/unfavorable rating.

The CNN Poll was conducted by ORC International Sept. 28-30, with 1,013 adult Americans, including 883 registered voters and 783 likely voters, questioned by telephone. The survey's overall sampling error is plus or minus three percentage points, with a sampling error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points for questions only of likely voters.

– CNN Political Editor Paul Steinhauser contributed to this report.


Filed under: 2012 • CNN/ORC International poll • Mitt Romney • Polls • President Obama
soundoff (293 Responses)
  1. Nick

    Good job trying to keep things interesting, CNN. We all know what's going to happen in November, but kudos to you for making it seem like there's still some suspense to milk.

    October 1, 2012 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  2. bnakka

    Yeah and statistically the poor keep making poor choices. Look around you the ones who can't feed their kids but have money to buy smokes and booze...... The middle class keep making bad choices too buying everything on credit not living in their means. The rich seem to be working hard hoarding their wealth. The ones who pay taxes can't keep paying more for everyone else who don't pay any tax to be getting kickbacks.

    Government needs to make some tough choices and tell the people they don't have any money to be giving them...

    October 1, 2012 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  3. Frank

    Polls are only correct when they say "my guy is ahead"... otherwise the are clearly flawed and/or politically motivated.

    Everyone knows that.

    October 1, 2012 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  4. Blah blah the wheel's off your trailer

    There's only one good thing that's going to happen if Romney wins the election. And that is America would ceased to exist because we'd be nuked by Russia. And I hope I survived to see it. Then America would have gotten what it deserved.

    October 1, 2012 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  5. cliff

    Bob, Anonymous, Lowering unemployment, creating jobs, 2 wars ended or ending, Osama dead, yep I'll take Obama thanks,

    October 1, 2012 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  6. Hammerer

    The CNN poll is about as believable as the Marxist. CNN has already heard from the Justice Dept. and know what is demanded from them.
    They need their license!

    October 1, 2012 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  7. ghostriter

    As we speak, millions of conservatives are awaiting for the results of these polls. Not to see who's winning, but to see if they are to believe the poll or label it as a liberal conspiracy to get Obama er-elected.

    The reason it's taking so long is that the servers at the RNC are down and they can't get the e-mails out. If only they hadn't outsourced their IT department to India.......

    October 1, 2012 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  8. Julie, Pittsburgh, Pa.

    Who cares about national numbers–what are the battleground numbers? This looks like an effort to make a more exciting story going into the debates.

    October 1, 2012 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  9. Len

    CNN: I guess all the right wing talking heads got to you by saying the polls last week were are fixed, so you had to make it look closer to improve your ratings......Obama/Biden 2012.......They will continue to save America from hate and prejudicy.

    October 1, 2012 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  10. Kentucky Windage

    ..
    ..As my friend CHARLES BARKLEY says of WILLARD MITTHOUSE ROMNEY.........
    ....
    ..................."WE GONNA' BEAT HIM LIKE A DRUM !"
    ..
    .........................LIKE A DRUM.................LIKE A DRUM.....................LIKE A DRUM.....
    ..
    ...OAD

    October 1, 2012 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  11. Goonie3343

    Nonsense , Obama will win by a TKO... 65/35....mark my words...

    October 1, 2012 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  12. Leroy

    If all Willard Mitt Romney can accomplish at this stage of the game is "very close", he's in a world of hurt!

    October 1, 2012 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  13. Paul

    Now show us how much more New York votes count than Mississippi votes and let's really start to talk about this so called "tie". Please. Obama is going to clean Romney's clock. This poll was bought and paid is not representative of the election process because it doesn't weight results based on the state.

    October 1, 2012 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  14. Sniffit

    Hahaha. Watch how religiously CNN and the rest of the MSM avoid the electoral map now in a desperate attempt to save the "horse race" narrative. Watch.

    October 1, 2012 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  15. n

    Another Romney lie to boost him up to keep the public interested. No major gaff, no sudden heroic act, just another day in the day, so how and why is Romney still relevant and polling even with this president, I tell you why, same old racial bias. Help the white guy out even though he's a lying tax cheat, draft dodger, flip flopping, no core, no foreign policy intellect, greedy, selfish trader to the american people by hiding his blood money in off shore account to avoid paying his fair share of taxes, investing in china and pointing the finger at the black guy who is doing a great job in spite of all the obstruction and unfounded slander by the extreme right out dated party of "No".

    October 1, 2012 04:23 pm at 4:23 pm |
  16. Loud Politics (twitter handle)

    As we know....popular votes means nothing. We need to see how the electoral votes play out. What is the poll say there.

    October 1, 2012 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  17. Amy

    Anyone notice how "someone" has made all media remove the SNL skit from their season opening night where the new guy doing Obama makes Romney look like a complete idiot? Only the first minute is shown before it shows how ridiculous Romney appears (E i E i OOOOO). Unblievable.

    October 1, 2012 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  18. Dionysus86

    1. Gotta love the people who tout the polls when they are favorable for their chosen candidate after weeks of dismissing them as skewed.

    2. National polls mean little in an electoral college system.

    I do believe the race is close, though Obama is clearly winning if you're being objectively honest, but it's time top stop focusing on the popular vote and focus coverage on Florida, Ohio, and Virginia. Those are the three states that will decide this election.

    October 1, 2012 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  19. angryed

    64% are enthusiastic...do 64% of Americans need their collective heads examined or are these numbers pure B.S....I do not know a SINGLE person who is enthusiastic abou these candidates, most seem to feel this is the poorest choice we have had to make in recent history....what ever choice you make you have to hold your nose while doing it because they both stink so bad

    October 1, 2012 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  20. Billy Pilgrim

    81% of Americans pay federal taxes including payroll taxes for Medicare and Social Security and income taxes.

    And the vast majority of them pay taxes at a HIGHER RATE than Romney does.

    Half of Americans pay no taxes? This is the Big Republican Lie.

    81% of Americans pay federal taxes including payroll taxes for Medicare and Social Security and income taxes. In addition they also pay state taxes, sales taxes and property taxes.

    Of the 19% who pay no federal taxes 95% are elderly on fixed incomes or working families.

    What kind of political party attacks the elderly and the working poor?.....the Republican Party.

    October 1, 2012 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  21. liz

    Not surprised because when it comes to the Teapublican/GOP voter it's not about policy or what is best for America it's about the color of Barack Obama's skin.

    October 1, 2012 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  22. blake

    When you factor in the 5-10% registered Democratic voter bias into the polls, it appears Romney is in the lead across the board. This lead will likely widen following the debates. Can't wait till November.

    October 1, 2012 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  23. bobby

    To all the liberals in California and New York: There is no need for you to waste your time waiting in line at the polls on election day. Everyone knows your state is going to Obama.

    October 1, 2012 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  24. Ganan

    Obama's gotta go-–he has failed miserably and every level. He sure can't run on his own record (there is nothing) so he has to bash Romney. Time for Obama to move back to Chicago, let someone else take a crack at this mess we call the USA.

    October 1, 2012 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
  25. Scott in Michigan

    So let me get this straight – among LIKELY voters, the survey polled 8% more Dems than Republicans (see page 15), which of course won't happen, but Obama only has a 3 point lead? And, Independents prefer Romney by a full 8% (see page 16)? UH OH – there has to be panic in the Obama camp! Those numbers are a BIG problem for Obama!!!

    October 1, 2012 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12